Visit to Varanasi or Banaras gives us the mixed glimpses of the treasure of ancient history or civilization in Saarnaath, emotions of religious fervour in the Ghats of Ganga and Vishwanath Temple, architectural beauty of medieval India in Ram Nagar fort, and sense of pride for the existence of extraordinary educational centre in Banaras Hindu Vishwavidyalaya.
Visit to Varanasi touches all the emotions and deep feelings of human life. As a visitor, one feels very bad to see garbage and rubbish scattered all over the city. Varanasi is a hub of large number of foreign and local tourists, but still, newly developed areas and roads of the city are not planned properly. There are more than 100 Ghats of Ganga River in Varanasi. Some of them are beautiful and very popular. But it is heart-breaking to say that they have remarkably been neglected and mistreated. Absence of cleanliness and sanitary facilities ascertain the lack of proper administration and governance.
Ganges aarti in the evening at Dashaswamedh and Rajendra Prasad Ghats, and at Assi Ghat is extremely attractive and spectacular. I have seen Ganges aarti in Haridwar, but “yanha ki aarti ki to baat hi kuch aur hai”.
This is the only place, where one would appreciate the ritual performance of pandas/ pundits. Grandeurs of Ganga aarti, vast Ghats and eternal serenely flow of Ganga River opens the doors of divine emotions and religious passion.
Archaeological museum and remnants of excavations at Saarnath represents the cultural enrichment of ancient Indian civilization. It’s a matter of pride to watch closely and observe architectural beauty of Ashok Stambh, our national symbol, and many other ancient monuments at the museum. Saarnath is also a Budhist spiritual centre, where Gautama Buddha delivered his first sermon after Mahaparinirvan.
Another place of attraction in Varanasi is Ram Nagar Fort. It’s a beautiful fort and the best part is that it is located next to the bank of Ganga River. But again, it is highly neglected and not properly maintained. Had local administration taken proper care of it, I believe it could have become one of the best forts of our nation. This is because it the only fort (within my knowledge) located next to the bank of any River. Otherwise, majority of the forts are located in hilly areas and give almost similar scenic view.
One of the outstanding features of Varanasi is Banaras Hindu Vishvavidyalaya. Visit to BHU is all together a different experience. After roaming in and around the city it is difficult to imagine that there could be a place in Varanasi, which is quite spacious, meticulously planned, well maintained, full of greenery, very well beautified, and possesses wonderful infrastructure to provide World class education. BHU has all the essential facility to be counted as one of the best educational institutes in the Global arena.
Use of Kulhars for tea and lassi offers soothing effects, generates altogether different flavours, and reminds some childhood memories. One feels happy to get rid of beverages, chips, kurkure and relishes the abundant presence of Indian brands of refreshments like, lassi, Aam ka panha, lemon-pudina sharbat, mouth-watering chokha-bati, chat, pani-puri, Banarasi pan etc.
New wave of modernization and Globalization does not have much impact on the city and people in particular. People of Varanasi are the essence of the city. They are very good human beings, full of life, humility, spirit and humanity. We had conversation with plenty and varieties of Banarasi Babus (inhabitants of Varanasi). We were surprised to see that 15 minutes of conversation succeeds to establish a kind of relations and belongingness towards them. At times, we felt as if we are talking to someone very close to us. I have always felt that a village or city or nation is-what its people are.
Varanasi reminds that infrastructural development, high standard of life and so called prosperity have some negative residual products such as hypocrisy, insensitivity, unsympathetic behaviour towards fellow human beings, etc. Being a Human we need someone to share happiness, sufferings and sorrow. These things cannot be shared with high rise buildings or massive infrastructures or with the people staying in such places without any emotions and indifferent attitude towards the people staying next to them.
Varanasi is the best place to cherish rich exposure of religious, ancient, medieval, and modern life and it also arouses inner most feelings attached with all the spheres of human life.